CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A former county extension agent for 4-H Youth and Community Management active in local politics in Gallia County on the Ohio River has been named director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia for the Strickland administration. Fred J. Deel, 56, has been a Democratic county commissioner since 2004 and will resign to take the new post. He was an associate professor at Ohio State University and ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio House (D-87) in 2002.
The agency he was picked to lead is an arm of state government tasked with boosting tourism and development in a rural section of the state. Republican State Sen. Joy Padgett of Coshocton ran it for a time under Bob Taft, and the office helped her as a springboard to her current elected position.
Lou Gentile, 28, is the new assistant director. He was Strickland's congressional field representative in Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and Noble counties. Strickland's 0H-06 congressional district covered a large chunk of Appalachian Ohio.
Of Ohio's 88 counties, 29 are in Appalachia, a region that lags the rest of the state in education, income, economic growth and jobs. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the state's development director, announced the appointments last week and said Deel and Gentile "have a familiarity with the unique issues and opportunities that exist in Ohio's Appalachian region." The choice of Deel is solid because he comes with an education background . He served 16 years on the Gallia County Local Board of Education, which operated rural schools, and his wife is a language arts teacher. And as a county agent, he worked with youngsters. He retired after 31 years with OSU, which runs the county extension programs in Ohio.
There is information about the Governor's Office of Appalachia HERE , and more about Gallia County HERE.
Strickland, who grew up in an area of the state called the "little Smokies," is the first governor from Ohio's hill country since Republican James A. Rhodes, who did a lot to spur development in the region. Appalachia covers a fairly substantial swath of the state, and there is a map of the 29 counties HERE.